Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom To Be Closed All Summer Due to Safety Concerns

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We kind of knew this was coming, but it seems Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom will be closed May 11th through September 25th, 2015.

Photo by Joe Hogarty, WDWNT.com
Photo by Joe Hogarty, WDWNT.com

A two day refurbishment of the attraction this week allowed Disney to assess issues with the new boats & the ride track and create a game plan to fix the system, removing safety concerns.

Last summer, a guest who had his hand outside of the boat lost tips of his ring and pinky fingers as the then-recently installed new boats rubbed against the older ride track. Guests were not permitted to sit in the last row of the Pirates of the Caribbean boats on either coast as Disney investigated the issues.

Beyond safety concerns, the new boats have been problematic with many taking on water or severe damage while riding along the ride-path. Guests have complained about getting much wetter on the ride than in years past, as the boats roughly passed through the turn in the track following the ride’s one drop.

Rumors have also insisted that some scene changes were coming to the ride in late-2015/early 2016, so it is unclear if any of those changes will be made now or wait for another refurbishment down the road. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

68 Comments

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  • Not the greatest time of the year to be doing this. It’s so busy. They should close it now while crowds are still lighter than summer time!

  • “… the new boats have been problematic with many taking on water or severe damage…”

    It IS a pirate ride, ya bilge rat. If it’s dry and calm ya be seekin’, get ye to a cruise ship and ne’er return to Port Royale.

    Arr…

  • It’s a 5-month refurb. If they close it now, it will be down for BOTH Spring Break and the busiest part of the summer. If they wait, they can limp through Spring Break and only miss one of the next two crowd peaks.

  • Probably have a very good reason not to close it now. They might need time to get materials together, new boats maybe… or rebuild that ramp somehow so it doesn’t soak folks?

    • Disney Imagineers do not design based upon the common sense of guests. If they did, they would have gone out of business well before Walt Disney World was even built.

    • Totally Agree with you there…. It’s not Disneys fault people are dumb and wanna put their hands outside the ride especially when it’s clearly stated not to.

    • Thank you for stating the obvious, as no one else seems to. If you are told to keep your hands and feet inside the stupid boat, DO IT. End of story. Why should Disney have to pay millions to refurbish a ride because people are stupid??

    • absolutely common sense. of course in our society, one gets affected by stupidity then you must punish the rest.

  • We were stuck on the ride for 15-20 minutes two weeks ago, right at the end in front of Jack Sparrow. It was cool for a bit but people started to get really cranky listening to the track for so long and we could see the end but we could not hear anything and were not given much information. Everyone cheered when we finally made moved onto the platform to get out.

    • We were stuck under the dirty foot that dangles over the bridge for 45 minutes last May. They had to reset the ride 3 times, and that included being in complete darkness at times. Really scary for my son.

  • Koolaidmoms- getting stuck on the ride is common and it’s the same for splash mountain. It happens. It has to do with loading and loading people with handicaps or special needs not the boats themselves

    • could be both and don’t blame a group of people for an obvious other reason i have been to disney parks with disabled people they don’y hold up the line!

      • I wasn’t blaming people with special needs for holding up the line. I work with kids with special needs and I know some of my kids would need extra time for loading and unloading. Don’t start on the whole mightier than thou thing.

      • If I said that sometimes people write checks in the grocery store, bringing the entire check out proceedings to a screeching halt, would that make me a grocery store fanboy? Find new material.

  • I would love to know the total cost of newer boats and the upcoming refurb. Maybe if they just left the old boats none of this would have happened. Disney has a bad habit of trying to improve on something that doesn’t need improving.

  • Oh no!!! Bringing my granddaughter for her first awesome trip. Pirates is one of my favorite rides. We arrive on the 11th at night. SAD

    • It was more than a “little wet.” Completely soaked. And in January during the cold snap. In all our visits over several decades this was the first time we got more than just splashed. Seriously — wetter than Splash Mountain and my tote bag was FILLED with water. Thank goodness my phone was in a waterproof case! I’m sure the little kid in our row was freezing afterwards. His autograph book that his dad was holding for him was ruined, too.

  • Could someone share the link to the refurbishment schedule PLEASE ? I have searched & searched for it & can’t find it, thanks

  • We rode this in December. It stopped and we had to walk out of the ride. I was having hip problems, but nobody offered to give ma a ride or help in any way. We were very, very disappointed.

    • Unfortunately when they have to take you off the ride the cast don’t have the training to assist mobility impaired guests if they can’t get themselves out or a member of their group can’t – that’s for Reedy Creek who do have the training and experience (I am a former attractions CM). It’s annoying for the few it affects – but I know that I would rather have a professional assist me than someone who has only learnt about it in theory and could do me more harm when trying to help.

  • i understand both sides. if there is a problem with the boats, which i have ridden both–didnt really notice a difference and was just there 3 weeks ago and have been there the last 3 feb in a row; then i suppose it should be fixed. the other problem however is purely parenting in a very high % of cases. yes i am a parent to clear that up as well. when you hear the announcement in at least 2 languages to keep all body parts inside and most all rides ask to keep children in the middle for a reason, why then are kids loosing finger tips? when we were there in dec i watched a young child sit on the outside put his hands over the edge and into the water—his parents noticed and said nothing. i tried to say ma’am and sir as to let them know his hands could be harmed but i guess they cold not hear me. the point? we cant ask one of the best places ever to be totally responsible for every little thing.

    i compare disney to going to walmart to shop. you have to know that there will be lines. there will be a holdup (loading and unloading) once and a while. you know that you cannot control the attitude of others, but go with best intent to be happy and enjoy and work around those that make snags for you.

    most everyone paid the same to get in those gates, some just think they carry more clout. they dont and most times it comes back to them.

    • If I remember correctly, the person who lost the tips of their fingers wasn’t a child, it was an adult. And as for the boat difference, the newer ones are incredibly uncomfortable for anyone who is tall. I’m only 5’8″ and my knees are jammed into the back of the row in front of me. So when the ride is busy and I have more than just me and my friend riding, I’m forced to sit with my knees crammed into the hard plastic seat backs. So if they can remedy that lack of leg room, that would be great!

  • The reason is is closing so late is because the week of Easter is super busy, plus anything after the date in Sept cuts into hardcore busy with the Halloween and holiday rushes.

  • As a former cast member (within the last year) that worked as a pirate, these things happen. It’s unfortunate it’s going to damper vacations. But would you rather continue to ride a ride that the cast and leaders see is having difficulties and safety issues and possibly have THAT bad experience or would you rather have a good day and miss ONE ride? I was working there during the last refurb, new boats and they had several days of testing. Unfortunately not everything can be foreseen, as time went on the boats have proven they didn’t hold up. For everyone’s safety (including the cast members that test the boats), they’re making sure it gets done RIGHT! I love the ride too, but I’m more impressed that they want it to be safe and we have to wait, than if they just let you ride it in the meantime and possibly get hurt until it’s a “low peak” time of year.

  • Glad they’re fixing it. The last couple of trips down, I’ve gotten very wet on this ride. Not like, “oh, haha, a little splash!” More like, “geez, I hope my camera equipment isn’t ruined because my backpack just got soaked.” It’s not something one expects on Pirates. Also, I hope they remedy the horrible, HORRIBLE boat backup (and jarring bump!) problems at the last scene. This is a major problem on Pirates and on Small World. Terrible show; terrible way to end a ride — your last impression of the ride is being stuck in an interminable, painfully slow boat queue waiting for it to finally END already!!

      • For the most part the end of the ride backups have more to do with what’s happening at load and unload then the actual ride itself. As for the bumping what do you expect with the momentum the boats a little bumper boats happens that’s why there’s rubber on the outside.

  • Is it because people are getting fatter, and so the boats sink more, taking on more water, and gaining more momentum on the drops?

  • I Do not like this ride at all , never ride it my cousin was there last week and was stuck on it for an hour it stopped

    • I don’t image it will, Tim. The Pirate’s League is in a different building and the new initiates perform outside. :)

  • If people would pay attention to the saying please keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times” then they wouldn’t have issues like this.Now I can see if it was a child that got hurt but a grown adult? Now what about Its a small world and Splash mountain?? Remember you can’t fix stupid!!

    • Right. Exactly. 100% correct. Say it with me one more time, “you can’t fix stupid”. So as a business, you have to go out of your way to insure the safety of even your dumbest customers. If you don’t, you will not remain in business very long. I’m confused as to why some folks here are having such a hard time with the concept.

      Guess how much a judge is going to care when Disney’s lawyers say, “well, we told him not to do it!” Hint: a little less than none at all.

  • Folks, Disney World Pirates, the refurbishment they are doing now, is OVER DUE. I used to work there and worked it for 2yrs. When we got the new boats, WE THE CMS COMPLAINED ABOUT IT!! like we actually called OSHA complained. Nothing came out of it until now. We told them that the boats weren’t riding right and were taking on more water than they really should’ve. The old boats we had, we only had to clean out any water that accumulated in them maybe once a day, if that. When we got the new boats, EVERY SINGLE BOAT HAD TO BE DEALT WITH when it came to Unload because of the water they were getting. So with all the water getting in, its caused the boats to be heavier and therefore getting stuck somewhere more often. And no its not because we overload the boat. Those boats are MADE TO HOLD 23 PEOPLE that’s 4 people in rows 1-5 and 3 in row 6 and WE ARE TRAINED TO DO SO.So while it might look like some people wont fit, trust us you will. The only time we’ll hesitate or give a group of 4 two rows is when we see that the party members are of size. Otherwise, its 4 to a row and 3 in the back.
    Its the amount of water in the boat that makes them heavier.

    And FYI, there’s multiple signs at the front of the attraction that say you might get wet. Read the signs, every attraction has one.

    Also when the boats get stuck, we know about it the second it happens. Problem is, IT TAKES TIME for us to call everyone that needs to know that there’s a stuck boat, and get a person down there. And if the CM can’t get it to move, ITS UP TO THE MANAGER to make the next call. So all those times that people have been stuck there “for an hour” (btw at 15-20 MINUTES manager is supposed to call it and get everyone out, but its also at managers discretion) its because the managers are actually are TRYING TO AVOID CLOSING the attraction just for the boat being stuck. Although yes, I’ve been there when they take forever to call it when all the CM’s already know and have gotten ready to clear the building while the managers work with maintenance on getting the boat to move without having to evac (evacuate) Also, an evac takes about an hour or so to do. So for the manager its either take 20-30 minutes to get the boat moving or close the attraction and take an hour to get everyone out. THEY WILL TRY EVERYTHING ELSE FIRST BEFORE EVAC-ING!! They hate evacs.

    And yes the boats back up some times, mostly due to an elderly/handicapped person that needs assistance from family members to get in/out. And for the love of GOD, if its the day you’re leaving, as in your packed and ready to go to the airport to go home, don’t come in to the park. You have no idea how many people have yelled at me and say “We are going to miss our flight, get us out now!” all angry like and I’m over here thinking “Shouldn’t you be at the airport like two hours ago?” of course we can’t say that, but we do think it.

    • Wren: I’m currently investigating an incident that’s potentially associated with the following portion of your comment: “When we got the new boats, WE THE CMS COMPLAINED ABOUT IT!! like we actually called OSHA complained. Nothing came out of it until now. We told them that the boats weren’t riding right and were taking on more water than they really should’ve.” Please contact me at 850-224-3310 as soon as possible. Thanks so much.

  • Going there in april. I will make sure my family will not be going on this ride. It should be closed right now

  • Not much better in Anaheim. Remember, WDW has a version of the Small World “Rubbermaid” boats, designed to compensate for the increase in the average weight of guests over the decades. When they tried a variant of this boat at Pirates in Anaheim a few years ago, the boats basically tore themselves apart on Disneyland’s longer drops (2). Now WDI is stumbling around testing a new prototype in Anaheim and failing miserably. Cast Members are at a high burnout rate and morale is at an all-time low. Even the iconic Pegleg Pirate (yes, there has been a Cast Member with a real pegleg) is leaving soon. So there is no joy in Pirateville!

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